Canada routs New Zealand in third friendly ahead of World Cup

Basketball becomes a much easier game when you make just about every shot you look at.

Using runs of 10-0 and 20-0 in the first 10-minute quarter alone, Canada went on to rout New Zealand 122-88 in a World Cup tuneup game early Tuesday morning in Sydney, Australia.

Canada ended up shooting 56 per cent from the field and made 16 of 36 three-pointers to win a second of three games in Australia heading into the World Cup that begins for them Sept. 1 in China.

The win did not come without a cost, though.

Guard Kaza Kajami-Keane took a misstep and crumpled to the court in the first half with what appeared to be a painful ankle injury. He did not return and will be further examined this afternoon.

Aaron Best led a balanced Canadian attack with 20 points, Andrew Nembhard had 17 and Oshae Brissett added 16. Everyone who played scored at least four points and no one played more than Nembhard’s 28 minutes.

Canada was once again without veteran guards Cory Joseph and Brady Heslip, who have yet to join the team for its series of games in Australia.

Team officials said last week they expected them to meet the team in Sydney but with the start of the World Cup quickly approaching, time is running out.

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Canada plays New Zealand again Wednesday morning and finishes its World Cup preparation with a game Monday against the United States.

Canada’s first round World Cup group includes Australia, Lithuania and Senegal and they will need at least two wins to have a chance at moving to the second round.

The top seven teams in the World Cup get an automatic berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Teams ranked 9-16 will be assured spots in one of four tournaments in summer of 2020 that will fill out final Tokyo Olympics field.

Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps

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